Trump still hasn't nominated a defense secretary 173 days after vowing to do so 'shortly'


The Trump administration still hasn’t submitted paperwork to the U.S. Senate nominating a new defense secretary.

More than a month after announcing Patrick Shanahan was his choice for defense secretary, Trump has yet to submit the official nominating paperwork to the U.S. Senate. And Trump may be having second thoughts about his decision, NBC News reported on Tuesday.

Trump announced on May 9 that he had chosen Shanahan, currently the acting secretary of defense, to permanently fill the defense secretary role. But in the intervening 33 days, Trump's administration has not made the nomination official.

The delay is especially striking considering that it was on Dec. 20, 2018 when Trump first promised: “A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly.”

That was 173 days ago.

Trump’s previous defense secretary, Jim Mattis, left at the end of 2018 after sending a blistering letter criticizing Trump’s dismal foreign policy decisions.

Shanahan has filled the role in an acting capacity since Jan. 1, or 161 days ago  — by far the longest period in history that the United States has gone without a permanent defense secretary. The previous record was 60 days, under George H.W. Bush.

For more than five months, Shanahan has been running the Department of Defense despite not having been officially confirmed by the Senate to do the job.

And if Trump is having second thoughts, the delay could last even longer. According to NBC, Trump spent part of his recent trip to Europe asking close advisers about other possible candidates for the position. Army Secretary Mark Esper was one name that came up in conversation, according to four people familiar with the conversations.

Right now is an especially bad time for Trump to leave this position vacant for so long. American troops are continuing to battle ISIS and fight a war in Afghanistan, and Trump has been engaging in bellicose rhetoric toward Iran and Venezuela that many fear could start a war.

The women and men in America’s armed forces deserve a permanent leader. Trump’s indecision and inability to file paperwork is a disservice to everyone who wears the uniform.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.